Monument record MCC5315 - WWII Anti-Aircraft Rocket Site at Abbey Field, Colchester


WWII Anti-Aircraft Rocket Site.


Grid reference Centred TL 9920 2413 (200m by 320m)
Map sheet TL92SE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

NGR's: Rocket Emplacements TL 9930 2398 a Accommodation Site TL 9910 2430 a

It is thought that the rocket battery which was originally formed at Lexden in the summer of 1942, moved operationally to Abbey Field, Colchester in the autumn of that year. See WWII Rocket Site, "C10 Colchester, Lexden, Colchester" (SMR 20135/MCC5314). Equipment and manning at the site is documented at various dates, see text below, and is summarised as follows (Finch, P, 1951):

Date Weapons Bty
27 Dec 1942 32 projectors < 196(102 Essex Home Guard) Rocket AA
Feb 1943 48 projectors < 171 ZAA R.A.

"Essex at War", p104, states, "On Sunday, August 30, 320 men, most of whom were transfers from 8th Bn. (Colchester Home Guard), paraded on the Abbey Field, where the Lord Lieutenant spoke. The first directions by the Ministry of Labour from September 18 added 139 men, and enrolment took place in the Drill Hall, whilst 7, North Hill, was being requisitioned as battery office and stores." and "Sleeping accommodation was in the nearest block to the gun park."

"Warmen Courageous", pp.252-253, records that the site was manned by 196 (102 Essex Home Guard) Rocket A.A. Battery with men of 171 A.A. 'Z' Battery R.A. taken to form the Regular component. Page 254 states, "On 13th December, Brigadier Murray wrote in his War Diary: "Developments have now reached the stage when operational duties can be carried out. I accordingly authorised manning by a Half-Relief (i.e., 2 troops and 32 projectors each night) to commence on 27th December." No. 1 Relief had the privilege of beginning: "The parade was at 1900 hours in the Cavalry Riding School. Examination of equipment and training was carried out till 2100 hours, when supper was served……Sleeping accommodation was in the nearest block of the Cavalry Barracks to the Projector Park, each man being provided with four personal blankets." and "By February, 1943, 48 projectors were being manned nightly…..".

Ordnance Survey maps show the Cavalry Barracks on the W side of Abbey Field at TL 9910 2430. Nothing positive can be seen on an aerial photograph taken in May 1946, but, on the S side of Abbey Field there are two rows of huts, 22 in total. Immediately N of these, on the field at TL 9930 2398 (centre of the formation) there are what appears to be 30/35 rough elongated excavations in a block formation covering an area perhaps 150 yards x 75 yards. This may be the remains of the former rocket site but this is only conjecture and should be treated as no more than a possibility, particularly as this position is approximately 300 yards from the cavalry barracks.<1>-<3>

Site Assessment: Wherever sited, it is virtually certain that nothing survives of the rocket bases - normally flagstones - or ammunition shelters. The 22 huts mentioned above have been demolished (1990 aerial photograph) although "the nearest block of the Cavalry Barracks" may still survive.<4>

See also <6> & <7>.

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: Benham, P. 1951. Essex at War/p104.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: Finch, P. 1951. Warmen Courageous; The Story of the Essex Home Guard.
  • <3> AP: RAF. 1946. 106G-UK 1492-3278.
  • <4> AP: Hunting Surveys Limited. 1990. Run 24-5006.
  • <5> DESC TEXT: Nash, Fred. 1998. World War Two Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Sites in Essex.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Nash, Fred. 2007. SURVEY OF WORLD WAR TWO DEFENCES IN THE BOROUGH OF COLCHESTER. VOLUME 1. Volume 1.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Nash, Fred. 2007. SURVEY OF WORLD WAR TWO DEFENCES IN THE BOROUGH OF COLCHESTER. VOLUME 2. Volume 2.

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Record last edited

Jun 17 2020 9:16AM

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